The morning I went to the work conference, I was pretty sure I was going to get sick.
This wasn’t because I had come down with the case of the flu or had food poisoning, but because it felt like my insides were turning inside out. I was so anxious about going and having to survive several days in a sea of people I didn’t know. I was certain this was going to be terrible.
And like most things you’re dreading, it was all over before I knew it. I had successfully made it through all five of my social media presentations. I found a group of people I could talk to. I even did pretty well at casino night.
Minute by minute, the conference went by. The worst part was breakfast, where I’d go down to the big room full of tables alone and quickly scan for someone, anyone that was a friendly face. And after that, it was sitting in rooms and listening to speakers or milling about at cocktail hour.
When it was finally over and I was back home, I sighed relief that I had survived, and not altogether terribly. My presentations went great, if I may say so myself. I had walked around for several hours in heels. I even tried moonshine (which was strangely endorsed by everyone there, and was considered some sort of “initiation” into my first work conference with them. Verdict: the lemonade kind is dangerously delicious. The cherry kind tastes like nail polish remover smells).
I won’t say I wasn’t shy and anxious and overwhelmed the whole time. That would be a lie. I was in a constant state of stress, trying to appear like the cool and collected new girl who gets to sit on social media all day at work. But, I will say that it got easier as it went on. My presentations were a great icebreaker. My roommate was the sweetest thing, who introduced me to several of her friends. People were curious about what I thought about the company, being such a newbie in a room full of veterans.
If Present-Day Lauren were to speak to Pre-Conference Lauren, she would say this:
- Practice yoga. Or learn to meditate. Or take some deep breaths. Or something. It is okay to be nervous, but don’t let nerves ruin you.
- Don’t wear a necklace where the pendant has a tendency to fall off, no matter how cute it is. Having a charm fall down your shirt in the middle of a presentation is a little awkward.
- Every single person who is going to the conference has been a new kid at one point, too. Know that you’re not the only one, and not the last one, and rely on those who have been there to be your guide.
- Even though it may feel like it, it isn’t the end of the world.
Next time, I’ll be ready. Maybe. Probably. The odds are in my favor. A few weeks after the conference, people still remember my presentation—someone came up to me today to ask me about my dog, which I talked about frequently—and that feels good. So, what do I need to say to Pre-Next-Conference Lauren? Just breathe; you’ll do just fine.